It was reported yesterday that Phillies second baseman Chase Utley was reporting to extended spring training, but there is still no timetable for his return to the big leagues. He will have to prove he can handle fielding second base before he starts playing in rehab games. It still could be awhile before we see him with the big club.
ESPN's Jim Bowden reported yesterday that the Houston Astros, who own the #1 pick in tonight's MLB draft, will take Stanford right handed pitcher Mark Appel with the first pick in the 2012 draft. Appel is 10-1 in his 15 starts this season, with a 2.27 ERA and a 127-24 strikeout to walk ratio in 119 innings pitched. Here is a March scouting report from Wes Yee over at Project Prospect for your reading pleasure.
Yankees starter Phil Hughes is another starter who's overall stats appear misleading, as he has pitched pretty well this season, outside of 2-3 starts. He threw a complete game 4 hitter vs the Tigers yesterday to win for the 5th time this season. He gave up 1 run on 4 hits, 3 walks and struck out 8, and lowered his ERA to 4.96 and WHIP to 1.35. He has given up 3 runs or less in 5 of his last 6 starts, and lowered his ERA by about 2.50 runs, from 7.48 to 4.96 over those 6 starts.
Hughes out-dueled Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who struggled for the 2nd consecutive start yesterday. Verlander gave up 5 runs, 3 earned, on 9 hits, 4 walks and 4 strikeouts in 6.1 innings. The loss lowered his record to 5-4 with a 2.67 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. In his last two starts, covering 12.1 innings, he has given up 10 runs, 8 earned, on 19 hits, 5 walks and 11 strikeouts. Certainly not what we expect from Verlander, but even aces get hit around once in awhile.
If you have fantasy baseball questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter at @faketeams, as I am there almost every night.
More Roto Roundup after the jump:
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper went 2-3 with a double, HR and a walk yesterday, but got thrown out at third base trying to stretch the double into a triple with the Nats down by 1 run. The two hits raised his triple slash line to .288-.380-.542 with 5 HRs and 12 RBI. Back in the offseason, I projected Harper to put up a 15-15 season if he was called up by May, but he very well could hit for more power than that as long as he can stay away from extended slumps, because he will slump this year.
Eric Hosmer has been a huge disappointment at this point in the season, but he is starting to turn things around. He went 2-3 with a HR and a stolen base yesterday, and is now hitting .214-.277-.372 with 7 HRs, 27 RBI and 3 stolen bases. This tweet from Sam Mellinger from the Kansas City Star is small sample size, but indicative of a possible turnaround for Hosmer:
Sam Mellinger @mellinger
Eric Hosmer's last 10 games: .368 batting avg, .415 OBP, .629 SLG, .387 babip.
If you want to know why the Phillies are having trouble scoring runs this season, other than the fact that Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have yet to play a game, look no further than their three best healthy hitters, Shane Victorino and Jimmy Rollins. Here are their triple slash lines through Sunday:
Rollins triple slash line is Dee Gordon-esque, and he is still hitting leadoff for the Phillies. Victorino isn't doing himself any favors in his contract year, as he will be a free agent at the end of the year. He is putting up decent power and stolen base stats, but nothing else thus far.
With the way Chris Sale is dominating as a starter, one has to wonder why on earth Robin Ventura named him his closer earlier this season, only to put him back in the rotation. Sale threw a complete game 5-hitter yesterday, limiting the Mariners to 2 runs, while walking 2 and striking out 8. He is now 7-2 on the season with a 2.30 ERA, 2.59 FIP and 3.07 xFIP, a 0.98 WHIP and a 69-18 strikeout to walk ratio in 66.2 innings pitched. He hasn't given up more than 3 runs in any of his 11 starts this season, and has given up 2 runs or less in 8 of those 11 starts. Sale is quickly moving himself into the Top 20 starting pitcher rankings for 2013.
Why couldn't James McDonald pitch like this when he was a Dodger? Ugh. McDonald is having a breakout season for the Pirates in 2012, and he continued his great pitching yesterday, holding the Brewers to 3 runs, 1 earned in 6 innings. He gave up just 4 hits, walked 1 and struck out 8 and is now 5-2 on the season with a 2.14 ERA, 2.47 FIP and 3.29 xFIP, a 0.95 WHIP and a 71-20 strikeout to walk ratio in 71.1 innings pitched. He wasn't even drafted in one of my NL-only keeper leagues, and is, right now, one of the best starters in the league.
The Indians called up first baseman Matt Laporta from AAA on Sunday and he responded by going 1-4 with a strikeout in his first game up with the Indians. In AAA, he was hitting .307-.399-.608 with 14 HRs, 31 runs and 32 RBI in 46 games. Laporta has disappointed before, so I would not expect much from him in 2012.
Speaking of hitters who have disappointed in the past, the Astros called up first baseman Brett Wallace to take the roster spot of Carlos Lee who was placed on the DL on Sunday. Wallace went 2-4 with a run scored in his first game with the big league club yesterday. In AAA, Wallace was hitting .258-.315-.456 with 9 HRs, 26 runs and 32 RBI in 49 games. Like Laporta, I wouldn't expect much from Wallace while he is up.
Who is this guy Barry Zito and where did he come from? Are we seeing Zito circa 2003 this season? Zito shutout the Cubs for 8.1 innings yesterday, giving up just 4 hits, walking 2 and striking out 5 to move his record to 5-2. He lowered his ERA to 2.98 and his WHIP to 1.25. He has given up 3 runs or less in 9 of his 11 starts this season, and should be picked up in leagues where currently not rostered, as he is owned in just 25% of ESPN leagues thus far.